This is the second of two reports about the recent trip Carla and I took to New York. If you’re a paid subscriber, you can read the first report here.
Our favorite thing to do in New York is to walk the streets. According to my pedometer app, we walked 45.1 miles in the seven days we were there, for an average of 6.4 miles a day. Our best day was September 4, when we walked 8.4 miles (19,796 steps).
The great thing about walking in a lively city like New York is that you are too busy soaking in the sights, smells, and sounds to notice the time or distance spent walking. Here are some of the highlights from the second half of our visit.
Goods for the Study
Goods for the Study, a block north of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, has a large selection of high-quality stationery items, most of which were new to me. The store layout is cheerful and well-thought-out. I didn’t buy anything because I already have enough pens and notebooks to last me at least a decade.
This East Village restaurant has been making incredible pierogi and borscht since 1954. We came here right after lunch for coffee, but I ended up getting a cup of the borscht and a slice of cheesecake along with my espresso. I couldn’t stop thinking how much I liked the borscht, so I made a batch based on my Belarusian grandmother’s recipe when I got home on Saturday. If you’re curious, here’s Veselka’s recipe, which calls for lima beans! I guess I have to stop hating lima beans now.
Our friend told us to go to Minetta Tavern. We arrived around 9 pm and sat in a covered structure on the sidewalk, which was great because we could enjoy people-watching in the busy West Village neighborhood.
Carla and I each ordered a hamburger, and I’m not exaggerating: it was the best burger I’ve ever had. It was so juicy and thick and flavorful! Minetta has two burgers on the menu — the Minetta Burger ($22) and the Black Label Burger ($30). We went with the $22 one, and I can’t imagine how the $30 (made from ground steak) could taste better.
I forgot to take a photo of the burger, but plenty of other people have.
We also ordered the Grand Marnier Soufflé with vanilla ice cream. When it arrived on the table, it looked like it was big enough for 4-6 people, but it was so light that we ate the whole thing. If you go to the Minetta Tavern, order your soufflé as soon as you sit down, so it’s ready by the time you finish your burger.
Little Island at Pier 55
Super agent Barry Diller reportedly spent $380 million to build this 2.4-acre artificial island supported on 280 concrete pilings in the Hudson River. Carla and I were supposed to reserve tickets (free), but no one stopped as we walked over the bridge leading to the island. The island has walking trails, an amphitheater, food trucks, and spectacular views, including one of the New York Fire Department’s Hudson River station with a pristine fireboat (photo below). We watched a Cuban three-piece band play in the food court. It’s worth spending an hour or two here before walking along the nearby High Line (also recommended).
I took a video of one of the two optical illusion sculptures along the trails.
Best ice cream
L’Arte del Gelato
The best gelato I’ve ever had was in 2013 when I went to Maker Faire Rome. The place is called Gelarmony and I still think about the super creamy, intensely flavorful gelato I bought there. I’ve never found anything that compares with that ice cream until we had some at L’Arte del Gelato in Chelsea. Carla and I initially debated buying anything here because it didn’t give off the vibe of an authentic place. But we decided to take a chance, and we were blown away by how much we loved it. It wasn’t too sweet, and it was very creamy. We each got a small cup with two scoops: coffee and pistachio. There are seven L’Arte del Gelato locations around Manhattan, and I intend to visit each one.
Banksy: Genius or Vandal?
We attended a large Banksy exhibition called Banksy: Genius or Vandal? near Union Square. 100 original Banksy works are on view, on loan from private collections. In addition to original artworks, sculptures, installations, videos, photos, and a multimedia installation, the exhibition also offers a surprisingly good VR tour through a cartoon version of a gritty English city covered in street art.
Signage in the show describes the Bristol-born street artist’s philosophy, often in his own words. Rats frequently appear in Banksy's work, and a sign next to the rat section had the following Banksy quote explaining why he’s interested in them:
[Rats] “exist without permission. They are hated, hunted and persecuted. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth. And yet they are capable of bringing entire civilisations to their knees. If you are dirty, insignificant and unloved then rats are the ultimate role model.”
The $29.50 ticket price was well-justified, given the size and quality of the exhibition. Here’s a video teaser of the show.
We loved so many other things in New York, but this issue is already running too long. I’ll leave you with this photo of the tasty dosa Carla ordered at the excellent Saravanaa Bhavan vegetarian restaurant that Seth Godin treated us to. Thanks, Seth!